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. Sharon calls for sanctions to prevent Iran developing nuclear bomb
PARIS (AFP) Jul 21, 2005
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Friday for international sanctions against Iran to stop it from developing nuclear weapons.

He urged consideration of immediate economic sanctions on the Islamic republic before refering the case to the United Nations as "Iran becoming a nuclear power cannot be tolerated," in an interview in Friday's issue of the French daily Le Figaro.

"A nuclear Iran would first of all be a threat to the existence of Israel, but also be a danger for all of the Middle East as well as Europe," the Israeli prime minister said in comments translated from French.

Sharon accused Iran of "playing for time" in nuclear negotiations with Britain, France and Germany.

Iran "has not shown any sign that it could be ready to renounce its nuclear effort," he said.

Sharon called for an immediate end to attempts to convince Tehran to abandon uranium enrichment by offering trade and other benefits, and instead for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

He said sanctions could put real pressure on Tehran.

"The Iranians fear the consequences of economic sanctions on the stability of their regime," said Sharon.

"The imposition of economic sanctions could even be considered before the case is referred to the Security Council," he added.

The Europeans are trying to convince Iran to give up uranium enrichment, which produces fuel for the civil power stations and can be diverted to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Iran, which hid much of its nuclear work from international inspectors, claims its program solely aims to produce energy and it has a right to enrich uranium under international treaties.

Iran agreed to suspend enrichment in November to allow the opening of the talks, but refuses to fully give up uranium enrichment.

The EU has threatened to support US demands that Iran be taken before the UN Security Council for discussion of possible sanctions if it resumes enrichment.

Israel has stepped up calls for the international community to stand firm against Tehran over its nuclear program since the election last month of conservative Mahmood Ahmadinejad as Iranian president.

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